What The Heart Doesn’t Know

November 9, 2006

(Hey, guess what? More hand-wringing! More guilt! More angst! Huzzah! Never gets old!)

(Um, if these things bore you? Just scroll down through the pictures.)

Some months back, I had a pregnancy scare. Except that it wasn’t really a scare, because I was convinced that I was pregnant and discovered, in my conviction, a real desire to be pregnant. When the pregnancy turned out not to be, I was disappointed. Deeply disappointed. Sad. But I consoled myself with the fact that I had learned something through the experience: I had learned that I wanted to be pregnant. That I was ready for a second child. I rejoiced in this discovery. I was ready.

But that was then. This is now. And now, I’m ambivalent. Is it weird that I might have changed my mind?

I think about having a second child all the time. I feel the clock ticking, I see WonderBaby getting bigger, I feel the proximity of our future as a family and I think, what about Baby Number Two? Is it time to start to sorting out the details of B#2’s invitation into these world? Do I want to start sorting out those details?

Do I want a B#2?

My response to these hypothetical questions is, always, this: a big, fat, resounding I don’t know.

I can barely keep up with one WonderBaby. Or, rather – it’s a good day if I can keep up with WonderBaby at all. Most days, I’m laying trampled by the roadside, inhaling WonderBaby’s dust, before the day has even really started. As I’ve faithfully recounted in these virtual pages, I often feel like a bad mother, an inadequate mother, a mother who cannot keep up, simply because keeping charge of such a powerful, willful little being has proven and continues to prove to be such an overwhelming challenge for me. Much more challenging than I ever imagined it would be.

And here’s a further confession, one that causes me some shame: I feel this way, even though I have ample support in caring for WonderBaby. The Husband, as I have said before, is a powerfully supportive partner. And – and this is a huge and – I have the aid of an extraordinary child-caregiver. Ever since I went back to teaching part-time, we have employed a part-time nanny, who I have come to depend upon like oxygen. She cares for WonderBaby when I am at school, and when I am writing and preparing lectures and marking. She takes WonderBaby to playgroups and library programs and drop-in centres and the park and indulges all of WonderBaby’s energetic impulses. Three days a week, she does the hard work: the chasing, the wrestling, and the wrangling of the baby who never sleeps and never stops moving. She takes charge, and I am free to catch my breath and charge my batteries and take care of all of the other exigencies of our day-to-day lives. Why, then, with all of this support, do I continue to feel challenged? And what does this have to do with the decision to have another child?

I feel guilty about the fact that I hand WonderBaby off to another person a few times a week. I feel guilty that I feel liberated in doing so. I feel guilty that I so relish the time that I have to myself. I miss WonderBaby when she’s not with me, of course, but it’s the sort of ‘missing’ that is made keener by the guilt that I feel for needing the absence. The guilt that I feel for, sometimes, relishing the absence. (Oh, dear god, am terrible mother for even allowing the sliver of such a heresy into my heart!)

Such is the guilt I feel that I fall over all over her when we are reunited at the end of the day. Such is the guilt that I clutch at our hours together, insisting that they be filled with the closest togetherness, that every minute of those hours, every second of those hours, be filled with hugs and laughter and whispered stories and shrieks of joy. Such is the guilt that I cannot, in those moments, imagine dividing those hours, that I cannot imagine giving up even a second of those hours to another child.

My loyalties as a parent, as these pertain to time and attention, are already divided. How could I choose to divide them further? And they would become further divided. Every moment devoted to the care and nurture of a second child – in utero or out – would be a moment not devoted to WonderBaby. If I already feel guilty about the time and energy that are drained away from WonderBaby by other things, how much further will that guilt deepen if the well of time and energy becomes even shallower?

(I know, I KNOW. Enough already with the guilt.)

If I’m not happy with how I’m managing one child, what business do I have having a second?

The Husband says that I am being much too hard on myself. He tells me that I am a wonderful mother, a mother who gives her child more than any child could ever hope for. He tells me that there is plenty of love to go around, that WonderBaby would in no way be deprived by the addition of another being to love in our family. He’s right, of course. Love is not a zero-sum game.

Time, however, only comes in finite, and so zero-sum, quantities. As does energy. And attention. Whatever time and energy and attention I put in one direction is that much less time and energy and attention that I can put in another. Having another child will tax the available reserves. Having another child will deprive WonderBaby of some of the time and energy and attention that I might otherwise give her.

And yet, and yet… having another child will give WonderBaby something that I certainly can never provide to her on my own: someone else to love, and be loved by. Someone, other than me, for her to play with, conspire with, imagine with, fight with. Someone to grow up with. Someone with whom to muddle through the wonder and weirdness of family.

Having another child might also accomplish something else: it might force me to recognize that love is the best thing that I have to offer my children, and that love is something that I hold in infinite reserve. It might force me to recognize that I will never have as much time and energy as I would like to have, to devote to those I love, but that that, perhaps, doesn’t matter so much as the love itself. It might force me to recognize that I am limited, but that I am not necessarily any less of a mother for it. It might, in other words, knock some emotional sense into me. Or knock the overfunctioning stuffing out of me. Either would be good, I imagine.

In any case, I am (we are) still undecided. What it will have to come down to is whether we want another child – not whether it would be good for WonderBaby or good for my psyche or whatever. It will come down to what we – what I - want.

And I still don’t know what that is.

(SINCERE QUESTION THAT ALSO SERVES AS SHAMELESS COMMENT SOLICITATION: Did you know? Did you plan Number Two – or Three or Four, for that matter? Did you fret over your ability to manage, to cope, to love? I know that parents with more than one child thrive and love and wouldn’t have things any different – but did you always know that it would be thus?)

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    macboudica November 9, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    All of miner were surprises. I have had kids for almost 14 years now and I honestly still don’t know what the hell I’m doing half the time. One thing I have learned is that we are all human, myself included. We all make mistakes. Life is but a work in progress, so don’t beat yourself up over the little stuff (trust me, as they become teens, there will be enough time and stuff to beat yourself up over then!).

    Anonymous November 9, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    I’m posting anonymously since I have a confession to make. I love my 2nd more. I’m ashamed. But it’s true. I love my firstborn. But he is just SO HARD to raise. He has behavioral problems and our lives are pretty much filled with “what has he done now?” calls from the principal. My second is naturally loving and giving. While he gets into mischief, it’s not the kind that brings on police. Sigh. This is my biggest guild as a parent.

    Mouse November 9, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    The wife and I intellectually reasoned out having two many years ago, years before we’d even started on #1. Our reasons include the sorts of things you cite–having another person who will intimately understand where our son is coming from is a big one–as well as the concern about the spoiling of an only child (which would only be intensified by likely being the only grandchild on one side of the family).

    But the real decision, the acknowledgement that we would actively try for #2 (and it requires deliberate action on my part), didn’t come until recently. Again, for some of the reasons you mention. I couldn’t imagine having another one until my son’s physical abilities and language reached a certain point. Yes, he still needs lots of help and relatively close supervision, but it’s not quite so constant or intense (most of the time).

    And maternal age is a consideration for us in not putting it off any longer. I’ll avoid labeling as ‘high risk due to maternal age’ by a little over six months if things pan out here shortly.

    OK, I’ve gone on long enough, but I have opinions on the whole childcare/guilt thing too. That will be later.

    bubandpie November 9, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    It will be two years ago tomorrow that I peed on the stick and saw the little line that would become baby Pie. She’s now three months older than Bub was when I got pregnant, and I’m realizing every day that it wasn’t just the pregnancy that made this age so exhausting.

    Bub was 20 months old when Pie was born, and it seemed as if he very suddenly became much easier to handle – more of a companion, less of an energy-drainage-pipe.

    Maybe aim to get pregnant approx. 8 months from now?

    (But do. Do. They give so much more than they take, these little ones – and to each other most of all.)

    Andy November 9, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    I so much as thought about the second and wham! pregnant! (granted, I do know how this happens and all, but still!)

    While my brain wasn’t prepared by heart was. I spent the first few months of my pregnancy sort of scared to death, but now I’m getting more comfertable with it. They will be 23 months apart. I’m scared for year 1 and years 13-18. I think everything else inbetween will be fun :)

    K November 9, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    I have to agree with HBFather… You’re too hard on yourself. But it goes with the Type-A territory -and I’ve explored it well.

    Guilt if you do, guilt if you don’t.

    As for #2, when I got pg in October (way back when) I was not NOT trying – but ahem, that’s how it goes, right? And I felt awful for my daughter – like I was taking something away from her. I’m past that now – and I know it’s a good thing.

    No worries about loving them enough – although it’s weird to think about having another one that I love soooooo much.

    I’m just worried about myself – surviving it all again.

    Melissa November 9, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    We think we want 4…I know I’m nuts. I’ll tell you, my first is like WB and I questioned it too, I didn’t think there was any way I’d ever want more of the crazieness and wonderfulness that is Maya. And we waited as long as we could to have another and took the plunge mine are still a little bit under three years apart. But it seemed like a lot of difference to me at the time. And my second is so easy and so much calmer than my first and she came out that way. And they adore each other and I can’t imagine not having had Nata. And there is enough love to go around and somehow you change a bit and time presents itself. But it’s a personal choice and WB is only 1, so you don’t need to decide now. Now the hard part…well I though I was pregnant until Monday and I’m still sad that I’m not and now may be the time where we think about #3, becuase the though of possibly being pregnant scared me last week, but when I found out I wasn’t, it was unbelieveably hard to fathom not having a third in 8 or so months. So I’m no help really, but I think you may want to give it some time and come back to it later. Even 6 months of not thinking about it, may change your mind. Oh adn to answer your question, mine were both planned.

    Anonymous November 9, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Stop thinking and listen to your heart.

    MotherBumper November 9, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    I know I (we) want number two but I hear this really loud ticking noise, I see an exhausted woman in the mirror and I think “how can we do this?”. I need number 2 so that I don’t hold Bumper back and shelter her. I need number two to complete us. I know we have the love and stability but do I have the strength (both emotionally and physically)? I don’t know. I’m not sure if this makes sense C but all I know is everytime I think of our future, it includes another bump.

    Mary-LUE November 9, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    How funny that I just told this story to a friend today…

    We had Number One Son and about 18 months later I decided it was time to try for Number Two Question Mark. My husband said to me, “Mary, this one took away 90% of my life. I don’t want to give up the rest of my life.” I persevered, as I am wont to do, and husband went ahead with the plan.

    We tried for a couple of months and then many aspects of our lives changed including my beginning to work 4 days a week. Now is not the time I decided, so we stopped trying.

    Every year at my gyno appt. my doctor asked me, “Are you going to try to have a child this year.” I would reply no and then would say, “Are you ready to do anything permanent about it?” Again I would reply no.

    About seven years after Number One Son was born, the husband and I talked and we realized we were probably not ever going to choose to get pregnant again. Also, I was 34 and not sure I wanted to get pregnant after 35.

    One night, I was talking with a friend who asked me if Paul and I were ever going to have any more. I told her the above story with the addendum: “When the doctor asks me this year, I am going to tell him I am ready to do something permanent.”

    Lo and behold, as I was speaking those words I was already pregnant but didn’t know it yet. Go figure!

    My kids are 7 years and 49 weeks to the day apart in age. There were some challenges along the way and I’m sure still will be. But it is our family and it works for us.

    FYI: Dr. Brazelton says in some book that the most important part of spacing children is the mother’s state of mind. If she tries to have them close because she thinks she should, it is very hard on her. It is better for them to be farther apart if that is what it takes for the mom to be ready physically and emotionally.

    Heather November 9, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    Eek I just got over a “better late than pregnant” scare (late, thankfully) so no idea how you if you’re ready for #1 let alone 2. Go with your gut.

    PeetsMom November 9, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    The fact that you grapple with this at all is just further proof that you are a CAPABLE mother! And you will come to the decision that is best for you and your family – you must know this!

    I never wanted babies. I wanted two dalmation puppies! But then I changed, one year nearing my 29th birthday I NEEDED a baby! I felt need like I’d never felt before! And after one miscarriage, I was even more sure that I wanted a baby. Then I had her – she is now a spectacular eleven year old. And when she was two, I knew with certainty that I wanted her to have a sibling. I had my son nine months later and I never, ever regret that decision! They bicker, they pick, but push come to shove, they will back each other up every time. It’s great to watch. That said, I was just as certain that I didn’t want a third. Two is just a good number for us.

    You will find the right number for your family. It will just feel RIGHT! Go with the flow – you’ll be fabulous!

    jennster November 9, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    dude. i am freaking out at the thought of having one with bf, because we both don’t know what we want to do 100%. it is SO nice to think that blake would be out of the house in 10 years. it is nice to think that we are comfortable financially and having another baby would completely change all of that. not to mention the fact that we have every other weekend free (blake goes with his dad) and we wouldn’t have that anymore. although there was a time when i had blake ALL the time and it wasn’t that much of an adjustment. but i was single then. i don’t know- i think it would be a HUGE adjustment for us to have a baby…. and we’re not sure either. let me know what you decide and i’ll copy you. lol

    jennster November 9, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    ps- i commented twice. so now one is gone.
    pps- i also think that the age difference between blake and unborn kid would be cool. far enough apart that it wouldn’t be chaos to have both of their schedules.. know what i mean?

    Lisa b November 9, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    I think you just know when your family is complete.

    I know that I am done at two. I thought about quitting at one for all of the reasons you have given and more. It is nice to give your child a sibling, if only so they have someone to gang up against you with!

    If it doesn’t work out though I would be disappointed because we decided to try for two and it didn’t happen.
    I think there are lots of great reasons to have one child though. You have to figure out what is right for you.

    anne nahm November 9, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    It is, indeed, a mindboggling task – whether to bring another child into one’s family.

    I’m still amazed that for some people, all the handwringing and careful planning and logical thinking doesn’t really decide anything. But half a bottle of wine and a little whimsy pretty much alters everyone’s life forever, no matter how hard you think about it the next day.

    Life is indeed deliciously messy, isn’t it? :^)

    anne nahm November 9, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    It is, indeed, a mindboggling task – whether to bring another child into one’s family.

    I’m still amazed that for some people, all the handwringing and careful planning and logical thinking doesn’t really decide anything. But half a bottle of wine and a little whimsy pretty much alters everyone’s life forever, no matter how hard you think about it the next day.

    Life is indeed deliciously messy, isn’t it? :^)

    IAI November 9, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    I am the exception (as always) and we’re one and out. KAATN got the big snipperoo when the child was 13 months old. She’s perfect and our lives are so much better for her. But financially, logistically, professionally and personally, we only want one child. I, and I know people will flame me for this, cannot imagine sharing all the love, affection, patience, adoration, time, yada yada yada, with another baby.

    Plus, there’s no way I could handle another pregnancy. Pregnancy totally sucked. Totally.

    metro mama November 9, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    We are still ambivalent. I’m interested to see the rest of the comments!

    L. November 9, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    Our first one was planned, and he was the Baby from Hell — the amazing Spawn of the Devil, the Child Who Never Slept. I would have been happy to stop (and might have even been willing to put the first one up for adoption) but my baby-loving husband wanted another. My ever-supportive mother actually said, “You`d better not have any more children, since you`re not dealing very well with the one you`ve got!”

    I was so terrified of chickening out that I said, “Dammit, let`s get it over with, NOW!” We conceived #2 exactly one cycle after I weaned #1 — I was pregnant again by #1`s first brthday. In the second (c-section) birth video, you can hear me joking with the doctor: would he please take my ovaries out, while he was in there?

    I told my mother we planned to hang on to some of the baby stuff in case we wanted more kids someday, and she told me “That`s the msot ridiculous thing I ever heard from you.”

    But 5 years later, we went and had number three, anyway. Thank god the babysitter raised the little guy — he turned out best of all, so far. I think it`s probably because I went back to work when he was 14 weeks old, and he spent the least time with his PPD-suffering mama.

    Now my husband wants number four — ain`t gonna happen. I told him that in his next life, he needs to marry a REAL Catholic girl, not a half-assed one.

    Momish November 9, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    I almost hesitated to comment since I have one and will only have one child. This is not so much a decision I made, but one my body more or less made for me. However, I have two step children, so we are sort of a family of three kids. I think, by the thoughts you have shared, no matter what, you can’t go wrong. Guilt will never go away, regardless of whatever you do or don’t do. It’s built into some of us. If you continue to focus on what you will be giving, then you will know which way to go. Time spent in groups can be truely some of the best times. You will never have to share your love, it will dynamically expand amungst you all and only grow.

    Jo November 9, 2006 at 10:25 pm

    16 months between the first two, and a year of tandem nursing. 27 months between the next, 26 months, and then 2 1/2 years between the last two bio kids. 8 years from our last bio to our adopted one. 6 kids altogether. The house was a mess, I was pg or nursing for 12 solid years. I was tired a lot and really, really loved it most of the time. My kids, the oldest 25 now, say they had the best childhood ever. They do not remember the house being messy, they just remember me reading to them and taking them to the park. Would I do it again? I don’t know, depends on the day. Would I recommend it? Depends on the person. See? I am not sure you ever get over the thoughts of you are not doing it good enough or whether or not you made the best decision.

    crazymumma November 9, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    You pays your money you gets your answer.
    Big Girl was a huge surprise. Little Girl was planned.
    Yes it does take time/attention away from child #1. But I think it was good. The focus, the importance of Big Girl was quite a load for her to carry, and she did not even know it yet.
    That being said, I think that single child families are just as happy as multi child families. The focus is just different.
    Follow your heart. It knows the way. WB is still so young, we waited three years before we even tried for #2 because having #1 just kicked the shit out of us.
    Lottsa guilt in you these days….just had to mention ya know, cause you seem a bit riddled…Hope you feel better.

    jen November 9, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    bad…i didn’t even plan #1. and wow..i’ve been having these same thoughts and discussions, and what i’ve learned, with shame, is that I cannot commit to another, no matter how much some of me might want it, i just can’t do it. that said, if i was ever in a state of surprise, i’d suck it up and figure it out.

    oh bad…you are such a lovely mum.

    Mamalooper November 9, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    For us the idea of just choosing a second child is moot as it was a long, grueling road to have our first lovely Monkeygirl. That being said, we have been talking A LOT about a second child for all sorts of reasons. And up until very, very recently, our decision would change by the day.

    So we are going to try for a second knowing full well that the odds are extremely slim that we will succeed. But we want to at the very least know that we tried.

    And HBM, you and I could start the guilty mom club. I am just beginning to whittle away the guilt that I am not super mom. That good enough is good enough.

    Mrs. Chicky November 9, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    Tears are streaming down my face because it’s so good to know that I’m not alone in the Should We or Shouldn’t We game.

    I have no idea about #2. No idea what so ever. But know that you’re not alone in indecision and confusion.

    mothergoosemouse November 9, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    Throttle back, sistah. (And you know I said that out of nothing but love.)

    Kyle would have three or four or more children if I’d acquiesce. I was scared to have ONE. But I agreed to two, months before we got married – YEARS before we actually had Tacy.

    CJ was planned. Our bodies cooperated stunningly well. I was scared, but oh so much better prepared than the first time.

    I clung to Tacy like a drowning woman would cling to a piece of driftwood in the final weeks before CJ’s birth. But I also forced myself to let Kyle fulfill her needs, knowing that I’d soon be dividing myself between two children.

    The love for CJ surprised me, especially how naturally it came to me.

    Coping has been a challenge. But it gets easier – especially with a supportive spouse – and it’s been absolutely positively worth it.

    Oh, The Joys November 9, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    We got pregnant with Rooster Girl when The Mayor was only five months old. We sort of thought having our kids close together would be a good idea. Heh. A plan that really looked better on paper.

    While pregnant, I worried constantly that I wouldn’t love the second baby as much as I loved The Mayor. How could I? I had never loved anyone quite like him. People kept telling me that your heart can expand to love more children and I didn’t believe them, but they were right.

    I don’t love Rooster Girl in exactly the same way, but I love her just as much. The Mayor is my first born — and there’s something special in that. Rooster is my baby — that’s also special.

    Whatever you decide, know that your heart has an amazing capacity…


    Elizabeth November 9, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    Please go stand in front of a mirror and repeat these words:”Although I will never truly have as much time and/or energy to devote to those I love, I am a GOOD MOTHER, and there is room in my heart for another baby if that’s what we decide.”

    Did that help a little bit? All of mine were surprises, but the age difference of the boys turned out to be perfect. Ryan was 26 months old when Nathan was born, they have always shared a bedroom, and they are each other’s best friend. I think you’ll find that if you do have another baby, you’ll see just how nurturing and loving WonderBaby can be.

    Chantal November 9, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    Yes. I just knew. After the first three, I could not wait to do it again. Which is probably why our first two are 16 months apart (we had some losses between 2 and 3) and our second two are 20 months apart. I just knew.

    When number 4 came, I was taxed. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Everything about where we were felt complete and right.

    But that’s just me. It’s different for every woman I meet. Some still don’t know, but have chosen to stop. Some waffle back and forth, decision yet to be made. Some are adamant that they are done and happy.

    If you have another baby it will be okay. If you don’t, it will be okay too. You will fret and worry and feel guilty. You’ll spend your pregnancy wondering how in the world you could ever love another baby like you do Wonderbaby. But you will – and it will blow you away.

    Yes, I worried. With each one. But with each one I realized I had added another person to the world that would always be fiercelly loyal to the children I already had. Best friends. It’s amazing to see.

    And besides, when you go back to work, you won’t be leaving your children with someone else (necessarily), you’ll be doing the work you love and they will be with each other.

    SUEB0B November 9, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    My mom had six. I was the last, and she says I turned out best. LOL.

    Awesome Mom November 9, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    I always knew I wanted more than one. I was desperate for number 2 to come along because I was getting tired of playing all the silly toddler games over and over again. I needed someone else to be there for him to play with. It is more work but it is also so neat to see the kids play together and interact. We are hoping to have a few more.

    PunditMom November 10, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Wow! That’s a powerful post. I’m not sure I’m suited for number two, tho’ I think about it all the time. For me, it’s not to be. If hubby and I were both ten years tounger (he’s ten years older than me), we’d probably think about it. But he has two from his first marriage and R. has been more of a handful on some levels than I had bargained for. So, for better or worse, I am holding at one. I hope that’s the right call.

    But you’re right — love is not a zero-sum game, and I needed to be reminded of that!

    Julie Pippert November 10, 2006 at 12:03 am

    Wellllll….having a second child is pretty good for alleviating that feeling of “must be GREAT!” and “wow I feel guilty.” At least in my own personal experience.

    Yeah, the thing lost by having a second child was guilt.

    First day of school with my youngest, I gave her hugs and kisses and dumped her in the room, waved jauntily and barely spared a pitying glance at the mothers who stood in tight clusters, wringing their hands and crying with guilt over leaving their baby.

    That’s right. That’s what I said. I said I left HAPPY. With no GUILT. Or tears.

    I felt so good, even though I was heading to work and not Free Time.

    I also find second children the Great Equalizer.

    Not to take joy in another mother’s downfall but recently the Most Perfect Mother We All Know had a second child.

    She is suddenly at a loss, whereas before she Knew It All and Then Some, including what the rest of us were doing wrong and what we needed to do instead.

    Her life was Perfect: workouts, clean home, homecooked dinners every night, free time, Marvelous Husband and Marriage, and the Best Child in the Whole Wide World.

    Then she had #2.


    I had to go through IF treatment for my kids.

    Nevertheless, I sobbed frequently my last trimester…what had I DONE?!?! I was RUINING our PERFECT life!!! OMG I RUINED my precious darling angel’s LIFE!! What was I THINKING!?!?! How could I manage TWO!?!?!

    Here’s how: fly by the seat of my pants.

    That’s my parenting technique.

    You want *my* truth?

    One—which I thought of as a challenge—was a Cake Walk.

    Two is Kicking My Haven’t Lost That Baby Fat Yet ass.

    On good days I feel like the bone between dogs. On bad days I feel like the dog, barking madly, trying to make my children afraid of my bite.

    But then, we sit in bed together on a sick day and read Amber Brown books, the big one on my right and the little one on my left. They settle after jockeying for “I get the most of Mom” position and we giggle and sigh over stories.

    At night sometimes the older notices the younger is ready for bed, or that we are having trouble getting the Energizer Queen to settle…and she steps in, takes her sister by the hand, leads her to bed, climbs in, cuddles her and says, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

    After a tough day at school sometimes my older cries, and my younger comes up and cuddles her…and she lets her, whereas she pushed me off a minute before.

    Oh yeah.

    I lost the guilt. I gained a whole set of challenges NOBODY could have warned me about.

    My heart aches more. But it hums more too.

    There is no right decision you can know in advance. There is no perfect time.

    It’s bungee jumping.

    I can say I never have regretted my children.

    Not even when they baby powdered my entire house.

    (Whew, out of oxygen, so I’ll quit sucking up real estate in your comments.)

    nomotherearth November 10, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Well, you know how I feel – you read my post…I’m like a comedy team gone wrong: “Ladies and Gentlemen, in the centre ring it’s “To and Fro!”,
    “Back and Forth!”, “Yes and No!”.

    Yeah, I know I’m no help, but I wanted to say thanks for posting it. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in the struggle. And if you ever want to chat, you have my email…

    penelopeto November 10, 2006 at 12:30 am

    it seems like the second baby debate happens a lot. it’s because we know what we’re in for.

    we don’t want bee to be an only child. we want another one, but we also think that there are some not-so-great things that an only child has to deal with (like the burden of ageing parents). scary as the prospect of wrangling another kid is, it’s gonna happen.

    btw – me and chris both come from four. we’re stopping at two.

    Nadiah Alwi November 10, 2006 at 12:36 am

    Last month, I was sure to have another baby (boy) but my hubby prefered not to for we’re not settled financially. I wanted to push the idea, but then a few days ago, I realize that it wou;dn’t be wise.

    My daughter (2 y o) who’s in a trouble-2 phase, needs more of my attention at this very moment.

    So, I think, I’ll skip it ’til we can manage ourselves (me and hubby) economically and ’til my daughter get out of the phase.

    I think I’ll skip ’til 5 years from now and wait ’til my daughter asks for a sibling.

    BTW, this is a very inspirational post. Thanks for sharing.

    krista November 10, 2006 at 12:43 am

    Stop thinking and listen to your heart. That was a smart anonymous commenter (for a change, usually those anon peeps are rather unsatisfying in their delivery of comments).

    Since you solicited, I’ll answer. Our first was the shock of my life. I was 19 and in college. Not ready at all. The second, we planned. Strategically planned and timed it all out to fit into our lives perfectly. Then we tried, and tried and tried. Month after month after month. By the 13th cycle we became pregnant.

    Don’t over think it. I know it’s a huge decision, but don’t over think it.

    Let life take care of it.

    Virtualsprite November 10, 2006 at 12:52 am

    It’s funny how life works. I always wanted more than one but I split up with my baby’s father when the Ubergoober was 4 months old. I figured my chances were done. Then Nature Boy came along and he already had two of his own. We discussed having one that was ours. We wanted to. But then I had a cancer scare and a surgery and I can’t have any more now. So we’re happy with the three we have. As we should be. So, my point… fate will step in and help you out. Somehow. And it will be the right thing. Go with it.

    Mayberry November 10, 2006 at 1:14 am

    I always knew I wanted two (or more). It was never a question. That said, I was in NO way ready to conceive #2 until #1 was two years old.

    It’s been a tough adjustment, absolutely. But the part of your post about the gifts siblings bring to each other has been true for us, and so amazing to watch unfold.

    If pregnancy and birth weren’t so hard on me, and if my husband wouldn’t absolutely lose his shit, I’d go for #3. I’m pretty sad that I won’t get that opportunity.

    Bobita November 10, 2006 at 1:26 am

    I’m ashamed to say that all three of my children…accidents. And all three? Very difficult transition. But ultimately…I can’t imagine life without them!

    Crunchy Carpets November 10, 2006 at 2:21 am

    See but if you have two…they play together…annoy each other….leave you alone for maybe 5 minutes a day..and those 5 minutes are gold.

    We got suckered in to having no. 2 because no.1 was so easy.


    Maybe YOUR no. 2 will be passive and quiet!

    Seriously..we are (well I am) at that same angst about no. 3. Dh wants one….I am extremely ambivalent about the idea…I hate shutting up the baby factory..but I can barely handle the two of them and so I worry about what Iwould be like with 3.

    Think about the good parts of parenting …what you enjoy..how much you enjoy it….think about getting to do that again and doubling the pleasure….

    Izzy November 10, 2006 at 2:58 am

    We planned #2. After my father died unexpectedly in the summer of 2004, I suddenly knew without any doubts that I wanted another baby. Life is so fragile and unpredictable; waiting suddenly seemed silly.

    It’s hard having 2 kids but it’s also twice as satisfying yada yada yada. But it really is. No regrets here other than wishing I’d done it a little sooner.

    And I’m paraphrasing here…it’s something I read a while back. Sorry, I can’t remember who said it but it resonated:

    What’s amazing is not that we love our children so incredibly much but rather that we love them as much as we do in spite of how hard parenting is.

    Being a parent is hard work and nobody really loves that aspect of it. And that’s OKAY. Enjoy your nanny and know that WB is getting fantastic care. Ultimately, that’s what really matters most.

    the mad momma November 10, 2006 at 3:15 am

    We planned ours. We were told 15 months after the first is the best time to conceive. But I got pregnant when the Brat was 14 months or so. I badly wanted two kids and while it exhausts me to be pregnant and handle a toddler, I know I will not regret it later.


    penelopeto November 10, 2006 at 9:28 am

    very cheesy btw –
    my mum always had a little family circus (gag) cartoon on the fridge that had a lady and the mom having an exchange that went:
    “how do you divide your love among 4 children?”

    “I don’t divide it – I multiply it”

    gross, i know, but apparantly, true. (we’re still only having 2)

    Jo November 10, 2006 at 9:36 am

    HBM – I relate more to this post than I have any other you’ve written. Even though it was 10 years ago that I got pregnant with my daughter, when my son was just over a year old, I remember feeling the exact same doubt you described. I didn’t plan to get pregnant with my daughter and once it happened, I remember the nagging guilt I felt. I was sure, I was 100 percent certain, that I could never love the child I was carrying as much as I loved my one year old baby. I fretted over this my entire pregnancy. Going back and forth between guilt over not being able to love the new child and guilt over taking away precious time with my first born. Let me assure you, I learned at the birth of my daughter that the magic is just as magical every time. When my daughter was born, exactly two years and three weeks after my son was born, I fell in love with her. I understood at the moment she was born that the love inside me multiplied. And, my son fell in love with her. It was the sweetest picture ever to watch him welcome her into our family. Oh, life was challenging, things didn’t magically fall into place. We all had to adjust and there was still guilt – as moms, we’ll always feel guilt, it’s one of the drivers that makes us good moms. But trust me when I say, there IS enough love to go around. I have three kids now and it really is like with each child you bear the amount of love in your life grows. After three very difficult pregnancies my ob/gyn advised me that I’d be tempting fate if I decided to have any more, so I had a tubal ligation. Part of me feels very sad that having another baby is something I’m not likely to do again. Mine are growing up and need me less and less. But, I still need them to need me.

    Laural Dawn November 10, 2006 at 9:48 am

    Totally hear you on this. The GUILT.
    I struggle and struggle with the 2nd child question.
    Last night I was talking to a couple of people about this and it came down to why don’t I want another. And, I said that right now I can’t deal with the heartbreak and guilt – of all of it. It’s hard and I feel like I’m just beginning to be an okay mom. Can I do this for another one? But am I depriving my son if I don’t have another one?
    I know I’m at a different age/stage than you. But, I decided that this decision I will not even think about till I turn 30. Maybe then I will have clarity??? Who knows.
    It’s a HUGE decision. Of course you’re waffling. And, I think part of it is having a crazy energetic child. I have one too.
    My friends and sister – the ones who had easy going first children were all over having a second. I’m still questionning how on earth I could keep up. Literally. Could I strap a newborn in a Baby Bjorn and run after my toddler??? Seriously. What about doctor’s visits. what about nursing? Ahh! Too much.

    Christy November 10, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Wow! You hit a nerve. What great comments. For us, we planned both of them and had trouble getting pregnant with #2. #3 never happened, I was sad for awhile. Now, a week after a hysterectomy- I’m glad we didn’t have #3. I like my independent children. I like having something resembling a life back. I wonder if it is time to post about this rather than leaving another long comment here?

    Binkytown November 10, 2006 at 11:12 am

    I think you and I have been here before and I am still here. Have been thinking about this a lot and I come at it from exactly the same angle that you do: Is there enough of me to do this again and share all the love that I have in the fleeting time that I have with #1?

    I know what it’s like too,not to be able to stop thinking and just listen to your heart. I know there are people out there who handle babies with ease, but I am not one of them and for me it’s such a big deal and so complicated.

    I think about it every single day.

    Kate November 10, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Two (possibly non-previously-stated) thoughts…
    One, of course it is always exhausting even if you’re not with the baby 24/7… when you have a child, suddenly your heart beats outside of your own body. It takes a lot of energy to keep that heart beating and nurtured when it’s not inside your immediate personal control 100% of the time anymore.

    And two, just like you’re never fully prepared or “ready” for your first child, you’ll never been fully prepared for the changes that a second will bring.

    Whatever you decide, it’ll be worth it. It’ll be worth the joys of having a single child to focus on and NOT going through the rolercoaster of breastfeeding and potty-training and first-days-of-school and what all more than once. And it’ll be worth the effort to create another person to make your family a little different than it is now. Either way. It’ll be worth it. I promise.

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